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Security Concerns Disappear When Passengers Are Willing to Pay A Fee?

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Veteran, or even recent past cruisers, will remember when requests from guests for a tour of the ship’s Bridge were met with a grimaced face reply stating that Bridge tours were not allowed “due to security concerns. Suddenly now, it appears the decision makers at the cruise lines have decided those “security concerns” could be easily dealt with if guests were willing to pay $95 to $150 per person. Those funds are not being directed to hiring and maintaining additional security. They are simply an additional revenue stream the cruise lines decided they could tap into.

Understand, one doesn’t need any special clearance; nor is there any type of background checks on prospective “behind the scenes” tour particpants. The cruise lines are now selling these tours as an excursion; no different than a day trip to the beach on a Caribbean tour. The only requirement to participating is that you are a paying passenger on the ship, and you’re willing to pay extra to see more of the “restricted”, non-public areas of the ship.

Factually, there never was a “security concern” about allowing passengers on the Bridge, or behind the scenes, other than natural concerns about having too many people wandering around on the Bridge and interfering with the normal operations which occur there, or other behind the scenes areas.

Having been one who has been invited to, and granted access to the Bridge, engine rooms, storage areas, etc many times in my role as a member of the press, when I heard the “security concern” excuse being given to other passengers making requests for these tours always “stuck in my craw”. I never understood the necessity for the lie. Sure, it was a simple line for guest relations desk personnel to use to swiftly remove themselves from having any responsibility or ability to deal with the request. They didn’t have to ruffle any one’s feathers by telling them they weren’t important enough, or booked into a high enough cabin category,  to make the allowed in list.

Yes, it was just a “little white lie”, but honestly, hearing that “little white lie”, and other seemingly innoculous “little white lies” regarding other circumstances, has always left me asking myself… what else are they willing to lie to me about?

Call me sceptical, but even in my personal life, when someone I know tells me a lot of “little white lies”, I soon learn not to believe most of what they tell me. Perhaps they should be like the cruise lines, and have me pay them $95 if I want the truth.

The fact of the matter is, even after the general rules of security tightened after 9/11, there were passengers (not only members of the press) being invited to tour the Bridge (or other behind the scenes areas) on just about every sailing of every ship. Yes, it was considered an honor to receive such invites; just as is an invitation to dine with the Captain or other ship’s officers.  Perhaps soon we’ll see tickets one can buy for that as well.

I do understand some people being interested in seeing some of the “behind the scenes”, “inner workings” of the ship. Their willingness to pay $95- up to $150 – per person to do so is a bit mind boggling to me. It may simply be due to my own reaction, seeing people rewarding the cruise lines with revenue for the lies they told when these tours were unavailable due to safety issues.

I can think of so many other things $300 per couple would pay for; bail money for my release foremost amongst them.

– A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising –




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Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time August 3, 2011 at 6:23 am

I have seen many bridges and have taken free tours, even “stirred” a ship or three over the years, and had professional pictures taken of these once nice ventures.

Once the tour was commanding, in more ways than one. The captain and his officers actually did something on the bridge, gagues and knobs switches and pulls were as intircate as on a jet plane – NOT that they don’t do something on the bridge today – today, less so.

A “joy stick” and the computers are what really is the main event, and older ships have been retrofitted for modern navigation as the new builds have this new technology built right in.

Is this wrong? No. Is this denying a passenger from actually experiencing the thrill of navigating a ship – hmmmm- depends on the passenger.

Once anyone, especially children, could visit the cockpit on a jet plane. Nice. Today, I can’t conveive it being allowed and isn’t against the law? Hope so.

Many new ships have thick glass “window” to allow for a look into the bridge, without letting trhem into the bridge. Of course, exceptions are made, for celebs and travel pros, etc….

There was and still is a saying, on captains Night, on the ships (few) that still have them “Wheres the captain”, or if the captain is attending the party “Who is stiring the ship” – trite, old jokes, still aproppo, but, today, he’s job is less demanding as in the past. Plus, he does have officers.

To pay to take a tour of the bridge – WHY????

Comment from Bob
Time August 3, 2011 at 9:39 am

I would love to do a “behind the scenes” tour but can’t stomach the cost. There is no cost the the cruise line to provide these tours, except maybe some sort of trinket of photo at the end.

I guess it is another matter of supply and demand. The cruise lines have the supply and the passengers have the demand. Until demand drops the price will not.

Comment from Ernie
Time August 3, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Bravo Kuki for writing this piece! It’s very hypocritical of the cruise lines but no one ever questions anything related to “security”. Ever since 9/11 “security” has become the scapegoat in so many industries when they curtail access as well as impose inconveniences on customers. No one ever questions it because we Americans have been trained to accept “security” as a new way of life and a form of protection for the remaining liberties we enjoy. Personally I’m all for security when it’s necessary, effective, and actually serves a real purpose. It’s unfortunate that in many cases there is actually some other reason for the restrictions but “security” is the easy out for companies to use. Perhaps someday this will change when Americans have had enough.

I started cruising when free bridge tours were common on almost all ships, and in places like NY you could even visit most ships in port. Then the ACHILLE LAURO hijacking happened and 9/11 some years after that and everything changed.

Now it seems security is no longer an issue provided you are willing to pay. I find that policy absolutely insulting to my intelligence. Princess will even allow visitors, something that has been taboo for years, so long as you are seeing off someone that is sailing, and again are willing to pay a fee. Since when did revenue trump security concerns, or was security ever the true issue?

I might add smaller and more upscale lines like Windstar have always allowed free access to the Bridge and even visitors onboard (without a fee). I guess the wealthier passengers are considered less of a security risk? Who says the class system isn’t alive and well in America? Oops, that is another topic! 😉

Comment from Trip
Time August 3, 2011 at 3:19 pm

On our very first cruise, back in 1990, on the Celebration, we received an invitation to sail out of the port of Miami on the bridge. We were the only guests, and we could never figure out how, or why we had the priviledge. I have to say, I would not pay to see any behind the scene tours.

Comment from Judi
Time August 3, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Great piece! Where on earth will the charging end??

Comment from Dave Beers
Time August 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm

It’s tawdry conduct on the part of every cruise line doing this. I’ve done many tours when they were free. Frankly I don’t know what the attraction is for so many, especially for the galley which is just a commercial kitchen with electric stoves instead of gas. Take a tour at a nearby culinary school and you’ll fulfill that desire.

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time August 5, 2011 at 5:47 am


Glad you brought up the galley tour – which, for the most part, has gone by the wayside.

Why “gone”, one may think.

Back in the early 1980’s, seems like yesterday, one major cruise line decided to use “bagged” food, and of course, frozen entrees, similar to the one found in supermarkets in the USA and Canada (can’t vouch for the rest of the world. I used to ask about the tour, anmd was told several times about the micros and powdered eggs, and frozen desserts. BY MY WAITER.

The microwave oven became king, on MANY lines, mostly main stream amd lower “premium” lines. Pre-cooked and frozen was not only cheap to provide, is was fool proof.

Look in the frozen foods section of a supermarket – look at the chain restaurants items, and voila, there you have it, frozen, take HOME, not take OUT.

Could these chains be catering to the cruise ships with food? One can guess.

Comment from fitz623
Time August 14, 2011 at 1:08 pm

I did it on my last cruise words can decribe the 4 hour tour. I have been crusing for 30 years bar non this was the best tour I have ever been on worth evey penny.

Comment from travel agents
Time August 14, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Great blog! Very useful information. Keep up the good work!

Comment from Kuki
Time August 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I understand there’s people interested in these tours. After cruising for 30 yrs. didn’t it aggravate you a little bit that they never offered it to you free?

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